612-644-9781 info@crossfitslipstream.com

What to Expect From the CrossFit Open

For CrossFit fans across the globe, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us, as the Slipstream Open officially kicks off on February 22. Whether this will be your first Open or your fifth, this post will address what you can expect when you walk into the gym the next five weekends.  The Slipstream Open is our take on the CrossFit Open, a worldwide online competition that is the first step in making it to the CrossFit Games.

“The workouts will push you, the community will support you, and chances are you’ll surprise yourself somewhere along the way.”

Related: 5 Tips for Watching the CrossFit Games 

But that doesn’t mean we have to be elite athletes to participate. Each week, a workout is announced and we’ll all complete them together during the Saturday morning class (with make- ups on Monday at 6AM and Noon). The workouts will push you, the community will support you, and chances are you’ll surprise yourself somewhere along the way.


THE WORKOUTS

If you’re still reading, you’re probably curious about what the workouts will entail this year. While we have to wait until Thursday of each week to find out, we can look to past years to predict what we’ll see. As you read this though, keep in mind that there are multiple versions of each workout, so there WILL be a workout you can do.

The CrossFit Open began in 2011, and there are 8 movements we’ve seen every year: Double-unders, a snatch variation, muscle-ups, toes-to-bar, wall balls, thrusters, pull-ups, and everyone’s favorite: burpees. Essentially, you’re as good as guaranteed to see these. Some others seen fairly often include deadlifts, box jumps, power cleans, and rowing. However, at least one new movement gets introduced each year.  Last year it was dumbbell work. What will it be this year? Your guess is as good as mine, but some things we’ve never seen are sumo deadlift high pulls, squats of any variation, rope climbs, any kettlebell movement, strict press, and any strict gymnastics movement.

The average length of all 36 previous Open workouts is 11 minutes and 10 seconds. The shortest lasted 3 minutes (with the possibility of extending it if you completed the allotted work) and the longest was 24 minutes. All but 5 workouts have been an AMRAP format, with the most common time lengths being 10 minutes and 7 minutes, both seen in 5 workouts. What this tells us is that even though the workouts are tough, most don’t last very long. Neither are they terribly short, so pacing is always an issue. But if all this CrossFit geek speak is scaring you, don’t worry, there’s so much more to expect from the Open than 5 workouts that will leave you gasping for air.


THE COMMUNITY

Within our gym, these are some of the most anticipated Saturdays of the year, with big turnouts every week. To add to the fun, the Slipstream Open gives everyone a chance to compete for points based on participation and spirit, rather than time or reps.  Read about this year’s Slipstream Open HERE. Also, you’ll have a judge to count your reps and cheer you on as the workout gets tough. You’ll be surprised how motivating this is. It’s also a chance for you to socialize and connect with your coaches and fellow members after the workouts, with events like the Chili Cook Off on February 24th.

However, the special thing about the Open is that the community extends far beyond our gym as we get the chance to be a part of the worldwide CrossFit community. Every CrossFit gym in the world will be doing the same workouts as you for the next 5 weeks, giving you the sense that what we do here extends far beyond the front door of the gym.


THE FEELING

While the workouts and community are enough to make the Open special, the sense of accomplishment after completing an Open workout is the main attraction. For many of us, the atmosphere during these workouts will help us reach a level of intensity we didn’t know we had. There might be a movement you’ve never done and an Open workout might give you the perfect opportunity to get your first one. It’s also a chance to reflect on how much progress you’ve made in the past year and see how your work in the gym is paying off.  I have found nothing else that can lead me to surprise myself and increase my self-confidence more than the CrossFit Open, regardless of how the workouts go.

Related: Measuring Progress Off the Scale 

Hopefully this post answered some of your questions related to the thing called the Open that everyone won’t stop talking about. But to really get a feel for what this is all about, make sure to make it in every Saturday the next 5 weeks to take part in the Open for yourself.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com

COACH SPOTLIGHT – MEET JAY

Coach Spotlight – Meet Coach Jay!

Coach Jay has been with CrossFit Slipstream since January 2017, first as a coaching intern, and now as a coach. No matter what time of day it is, Jay brings his smile and attentive coaching style to every class. Whether he is coaching or getting his own workout in, Jay is incredibly supportive of everyone and a pleasure to have around the gym. We wanted to catch up with Jay to find out more about him and show you why you should check out one of his classes (where you’re likely to workout to some fun 80’s and 90’s pop tunes) ASAP!

What is your fitness background?

My fitness background started while I was in high school. I actually tried a hot yoga class with a friend on the cross-country team, because we just wanted to try it out to have something other than running. I started teaching yoga about a year after that, and then once I came to college, started playing around with some body building. I found CrossFit Slipstream last January, so January 2017, and I did my internship there until about May 2017, when I started coaching here part-time.

Why do you like coaching CrossFit?

I really like coaching CrossFit because I didn’t really ever think of myself as strong before I started CrossFit. When I’m coaching, it’s really awesome to see that with other people when they get to discover their own strength and play around with barbells. Maybe people have never touched a weight before in their life, but they come to a CrossFit gym and they get to try these things and surprise themselves on a day-to-day basis, so that’s really why I love it.

What is your coaching philosophy?

I’d say my coaching philosophy is really just that when you get into the gym, it should really be the best time of the day. This is so much more than just walking into a gym, doing your own thing, and listening to your headphones. This is about having people around to support you, and giving them reasons to find their own strength and come back and progress in CrossFit, whether that’s because they really want to be the best they can be at CrossFit, or if it’s because they want to the best version of themselves outside of the gym.

To hear some fun facts about Jay over the next couple of weeks, like us on Facebook! 

Gratitude: The Art of the 5-Minute Journal

“You should be grateful for the food on your table!” my grandma shouted at me as I inevitably left scraps of food on my plate. I used to question lots of her practices. Why did she insist on praying the second she awoke in the morning? Why did we have to tiptoe around her at night while she murmured all of the things she was grateful for during her nightly prayers? But the more I learn about gratitude and what it means to be grateful, the more I have come to see my grandmother’s eccentricities as contributing factors to her current longevity and general happiness with life.

What exactly is gratitude and how is it different from feelings of happiness or devotion? According to Webster’s dictionary, gratitude is to be “appreciative of the benefits received.”  However, I have come to understand gratitude to be a little more complicated than that.

“Gratitude is acknowledging things that have come to you that you may or may not have worked for or deserved. Gratitude is more of a lens or a way of seeing the world that involves recognizing others and their actions that have positively affected your life.”

Unlike happiness, which is a temporary state of being that may or may not acknowledge how or why you feel that emotion, gratitude may be felt even when you aren’t particularly happy.

Related: Flipping the Script: “Have To” vs “Get To”

Studies have begun to uncover the many psychological and physiological benefits to practicing gratitude.  The practice of gratitude has been shown to activate neuro-transmitters associated with positive mood and has the potential to rewire the structures of our brain to develop more empathy for other people. Expressing gratitude can also lesson levels of depression, anxiety, and stress while decreasing hormones like cortisol that cause stress to the body. Decreasing total stress to the mind and body may lesson the likelihood of developing stress-related chronic diseases.

“Other positive correlations with gratitude include increased quality of sleep, fewer symptoms of illness and improved performance.”


There are, of course, many ways to practice gratitude but my goal is to provide you with at least one tangible way to practice gratitude that will help you reap all of the physical, social, and emotional benefits.  Behold! The 5-minute Gratitude Journal! I have altered the format to my liking, so please feel free to do the same.

I am grateful for…

Begin and end your day by writing three things you are grateful for.  Consider describing tangible, in the moment things (i.e. I am grateful for this delicious cup of hot tea). That way, even if you aren’t feeling particularly grateful for anything, you can use your senses to become more present.

What would make today great?

Next, “prime” or “pre-frame” your mind for seeing opportunities to make your day as successful as possible. By writing down what you want to happen to make your day great, your mind is more likely to point out those opportunities to you. Think of the car effect. When you buy a new car suddenly you start seeing that car everywhere. Your mind has retrained itself to SEE that particular car, and that’s the exact kind of thing we are trying to do in the gratitude journal.

Daily affirmations…

End your morning journal with some daily affirmations that guide how you would like to see yourself. These can be simple and are meant to help remind you to make decisions throughout the day that reflect your values.

How could I have made today better?

The evening portion of the journal is used to reflect upon your day. It is a space to write down the things that may have bothered you and to come up with solutions to address those issues. Sometimes just getting your frustrations down on paper can be enough to let you have a decent nights sleep.

Three awesome things that happened today…

Lastly, I like to end with happy thoughts, as I’ve found that forcing myself to think of the reasons why I should be grateful has oftentimes lessened feelings of sadness or anger.


Tips For Success

  1. Streamline your journaling process. Make sure to set-up your journal ahead of time. For some people, this may mean investing in pre-made gratitude journals easily found at your local bookstore.

  2. Consider multiple journaling avenues. I have also found that keeping a journaling app on hand has enabled me to still undergo a daily practice of gratitude, even if it’s not as detailed as the 5 minute journal. I personally use the Gratitude App, where you literally just add what you are grateful for that particular day. It takes about 30 seconds, must faster than any WOD you have ever done.

  3. Find yourself an “accountability buddy.”  Be it a partner, child, friend, coach, or a classroom of students, letting other people know about your goals and even asking them to join in with you can mean a higher likelihood of success for you.


“You can express gratitude to basically any external force that may have contributed to something beneficial in your life. “

My challenge to you is to try to find a way to incorporate gratitude throughout your day, whether it’s through something like the 5-minute journal or quickly scribbling down something you are grateful for on a piece of paper. Refer to the blog post How Do I Stay Consistent with my Fitness? to learn how to begin making the gratitude journal a daily habit.

If you need help setting up your journal or brainstorming other ways you can incorporate gratitude in your life, email me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

—Jasmine Gerritsen

Coach/Trainer

CrossFit Slipstream

Jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

A Deeper Look at Collagen Supplements

Along with many other “trendy” supplements, collagen (usually in the form of a powder or bone broth) has been popping up along shelves everywhere over the last year or so. And while you might not have heard the word “collagen” before seeing it in the supplements aisle, you’re actually very familiar with it, because collagen is the most abundant structural protein in your body. Found in skin and other connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, collagen makes up about 1/3 of the protein in the human body. But before throwing that box of bone broth in your shopping cart, let’s take a closer look to see if this supplement could help improve your health and wellbeing.

“Collagen fibers start to break down in our early to mid twenties, so the idea behind taking dietary collagen supplements is that it could help repair our bone matrix and joint surfaces.”

While it might seem like a trend, collagen supplements actually date back to 1981, when the FDA approved bovine collagen to be used for cosmetic injection. For decades, collagen has been used to smooth wrinkles and improve things like skin complexion and hair health. And its proven to be very good at doing this job, but how did we transition to using collagen as a dietary supplement? Lately, improvements in technology have allowed production of ingestible forms of collagen supplementation like powders and bone broths, which have their roots in Chinese medicine dating back over 2,500 years.

Collagen fibers start to break down in our early to mid twenties, so the idea behind taking dietary collagen supplements is that it could help repair our bone matrix and joint surfaces.  This might prevent some musculoskeletal issues that are common with aging.  If you’ve ever had achy knees, this might sound like a worthwhile investment.  However, it’s not quite that simple. Collagen is a protein that is produced from a long and complicated chain of reactions that happen within the body. When we consume collagen in its pure form, digestion breaks it down into its individual amino acids, so there is no guarantee that it will actually end up being built back up into collagen proteins.  Therefore, collagen supplements are most likely not any more effective than consuming adequate amounts of protein that can also supply the essential amino acids necessary to allow our bodies to produce collagen.

Related: Protein Intake for Best Results

Further, when taking a look at the research, there are few if any studies that have even looked at, let alone supported, the idea that collagen supplements can have an effect on musculoskeletal health. And as with all supplements, keep in mind that the FDA does not require that supplements be effective or have accurate labels to be put on shelves, they only have to prove they don’t do any harm.

Don’t worry though, all is not lost in the battle to keep our skeletons happy and healthy, because there are a variety of foods that have been proven to boost collagen production within our bodies; including red, orange, and dark green vegetables, berries, fish, citrus, lean proteins (egg, nuts, etc.), white tea, and garlic.  Ensuring that we’re eating these foods and getting sufficient amounts of other vitamins that support bone and joint health like vitamin D and calcium may be a better first step than jumping on the collagen bandwagon. However, if you have dietary restrictions or struggle to eat enough protein throughout the day, collagen supplements might be a good choice for you, just know that they’re not the only option and make sure to do your research first. Email me at jay@crossfitslipstream.com or set up your monthly consult to talk with one of your coaches about the best nutrition plan to help you reach your goals.

Related: 3 Key Elements of a Successful Nutrition Plan

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com

MEMBER HIGHLIGHT – MEET SARAH!

Sarah has been with CrossFit Slipstream for almost a year!  She is very strong and athletic!  It is inspiring to watch her lift the barbell!  We love having her at CrossFit Slipstream!
1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
I started CrossFit to get in shape! I wanted to find something that would actually stick, and now it’s become somewhat of an addiction! I had a gym membership prior to joining CrossFit with the occasional training session, but I found that when I actually did attend the gym (albeit not very regularly) I didn’t get much out of it. I’m not one to motivate myself enough to get a quality workout when I’m the only one to hold myself accountable. 
2. How has having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
I think it’s pretty fantastic to have someone motivating you to reach your personal best! The trainers are all great about scaling the workout to meet your needs and abilities. It’s also comforting to know that someone is always there to correct your form if need be. Again, I lack self motivation, so having someone to encourage me to keep going is exactly what I need! 
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
I feel like I have more energy in my day to day life. I started off with the New You Challenge which was a great program for easing into CrossFit WODs. The New You Challenge also incorporated a nutrition program which kept me accountable for what I was doing outside of the gym. Even after the challenge, as a member you have regular consults with Susan and John which are helpful to keep you on track to reach your fitness and nutrition goals. I also now have PERFECT form for carrying 50 lb boxes of clay, thanks to CrossFit! 
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
Tire flips, they make me feel like a beast! 
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
The trainers meet you where you are, it’s a pressure free and safe environment!
It’s a really encouraging and motivating community to be a part of! 
CrossFit should come with a Surgeon General’s warning, it’s pretty addicting! 
Contact us at info@crossfitslipstream.com or call 612-644-9781 if you’d like to set up a free no-sweat intro.

Healthy Hips 101

When it comes to the human body, the hips can be thought of as the workhorses of creating movement. Not only do they have the important job of allowing locomotion, but they also have the tricky task of transferring power from the legs to the spine. We also can’t forget that they create a large amount of power on their own.

Related: How can ROM make you fitter?

Like the shoulders, the hips are a ball and socket joint. This means that the head of the femur (thigh bone), sits in a socket of the pelvis known as the acetabulum. Where these two bones meet is surrounded by a variety of ligaments, joint capsules, and muscles that work together to move the hips through its wide range of motion.

“Hip pain is increasingly common with aging and can create much more serious problems later down the road, and don’t just take my word for it, take it from the 2.5 million Americans living with Total Hip Replacements.”

Related: Shoulder Prehab 101

Problems with any one of these muscles, ligaments, or capsules can result in hip pain or restrictions. In CrossFit, nearly every movement we encounter involves the hips creating or transferring force in some capacity, so careful steps need to be taken to keep our hips happy and healthy. Hip pain is increasingly common with aging and can create much more serious problems later down the road, and don’t just take my word for it, take it from the 2.5 million Americans living with Total Hip Replacements. This post will introduce 5 drills that will provide relief for any nagging hip pain and strengthen the joint through its full range of motion to ensure that we’ll keep our hips healthy for years to come.


ADDUCTOR STRETCH

This stretch provides the best relief for hip impingement of any I’ve come across so far, which is a common ailment with how much we sit in today’s society. To start, kneel on a soft surface and extend one leg out long to the side while keeping your torso upright. Then, send your hips back as you reach arms out long in front of you. Go to a point of discomfort in the groin of the extended leg, but not pain. Hold for about 3 seconds, then return to starting position. Perform 10 reps on each leg, or more if you think this one feels as good as I do.

Related: What is Sitting Really Doing to Me?


INTERNAL ROTATION ON BENCH

For this stretch, stand next to bench, and place one knee on the center of the bench. With the leg that’s on the bench, wrap your foot around the edge of the bench. Then, walk your standing foot forward a bit and start to turn towards the leg on the bench to increase the stretch, stopping at the point when you feel discomfort, but not pain. Depending on your own personal hip anatomy, you might feel this on the inner portion of the hip or the upper-outside portion of your hip towards the glute. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each leg. If you’re at home, you can also perform this stretch on the edge of a bed or couch.


SUPINE PIGEON

Start lying on your back for this stretch and bring your knees up to a tabletop position. Cross your right ankle onto the left thigh, just above the left knee. Then, grab onto the backside of your left leg and gently start to pull the left leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch on the outside of your right hip and glute region. If you’d like to increase the stretch a bit further, you can also use the right elbow to gently push out on your right knee. Hold for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, then switch legs and repeat.


HIP CIRCLES

You’ll need a lacrosse tennis ball – or any round object – for this drill that will focus on strengthening your hip through its end ranges of motion. Start on your hands and knees, and place the lacrosse ball on your low back. Slowly start to raise your right knee out to the side, keeping your hips squared off down to the ground to make sure the ball doesn’t roll off. Raise the knee as high as you can, then rotate your hip to point your knee straight behind you. Lower the right knee to the ground, then reverse that same circle (lifting knee behind you, then to the side, then down). Perform 5 circles in each direction with the right leg, then repeat on the left.


GLUTE BRIDGES

Strong glutes are essential for healthy hips, so this drill will target the glutes as well as the hamstrings. Start lying on your back and place feet flat on the ground hip-width distance apart. Walk feet in towards your glutes until your fingertips can touch your heels. Drive heels into the ground to lift hips straight up for the ceiling. Make sure that your knees are staying hip-width distance apart instead of flaring out wide or caving in. Hold for 3 seconds, slowly lower hips back down to tap ground then lift straight back up. Perform 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps. If after doing these a couple times you’d like to increase the challenge, feel free to lift one leg at a time, but keep the hips squared off to the ground still while you do this.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com

Measuring Progress Off the Scale

If you’re anything like me, a new year means lots of new goals, and within the world of fitness some of these goals we set revolve around our weight.  Let’s discuss why “weight” is not the best way to measure progress towards health and fitness goals.

“We should focus on the long-term goals of improving health and happiness, which are two units that no scale will ever be able to measure.”

Scales are good for telling us one thing and one thing only: your total body weight.  This includes bones, muscle, fat, fluids, hair, organs, and skin.  Changes in any of these factors can increase the reading on the scale.  This can be discouraging if we define our goal as decreasing the number on the scale.  However, we can fight these disheartening feelings and maintain our motivation by looking elsewhere for signs of progress.

Related: What Better Than Yesterday Means to Me


JOURNALING

The best way to track progress is daily journaling. Writing down how you feel, physically and emotionally, after a workout or at any point in the day is a great way for you to take a second and think about how your journey is going.  Just quick notes in your WOD Log or on your phone about how a workout felt, or if you have more energy, or how eating is going – are all it takes to get you connected to your body and think about ways that you’re making progress. When you’re having a moment of low motivation (which will happen), you can look back at past journal notes to remind yourself how far you’ve come and what you’re working towards.

Related: 3 Reasons to Log Your Workouts


STRENGTH

While weight on the scale is not the best indicator of progress in fitness, the weight we’re lifting is a valuable sign of improvement. Do you find yourself loading more weight on the bar, or feeling more comfortable with a difficult movement? Or perhaps things in everyday life are feeling easier?  Increasing strength is a critical sign of progress and should be celebrated accordingly, regardless of what the number on the scale says.

Related: The Importance of Foundational Strength


MOBILITY GAINS

Whether we’re trying to lose or gain weight or not, nearly all of us can be working towards mobility goals and getting into better positions during exercises. If you’ve been struggling with a certain movement, like holding a barbell in front of you, or squatting with heels down, ask your coaches some ways you can improve your mobility. Then, track your progress in one or a few key mobility positions and test them every week or two. Good positions to test are overhead squat with a PVC, seated forward fold, or overhead reach. Just like improvements in strength, mobility gains are great for our bodies but don’t show up on a scale, so focus on these to take some power out of that machine you occasionally step on.


MEASUREMENTS & PHOTOS

The majority of the time when we start a fitness program that involves resistance exercises, the muscle we gain weighs around as much as the fat we lose, so the number on the scale might actually creep up. This is just another reason why the scale might not be your best friend in measuring progress. Some alternative ways we can track body composition progress are by recording measurements around the chest, waist, and thighs, or noticing how clothes fit, or taking periodic photos. However, a word of caution with these: doing them too often robs them of some of their power. We look in a mirror every single day which is why it’s hard to see progress happening sometimes, and if we take measurements every day it will be just as hard to feel like you’re improving. Taken at regular intervals, measurements and photos are a great way to see how far we’ve actually come and can be great motivation to continue the work you’ve started.


While it might be tempting to measure progress by hopping on the nearest scale, my hope is that by focusing on some of the alternative measures of progress we’ll all be able to stop placing so much importance on the numbers that show up on that device. I definitely do NOT recommend tossing your scale out your window and eating however many brownies you want (trust me, I want them all too). But I am saying that we should focus on the long-term goals of improving health and happiness, which are two units that no scale will ever be able to measure.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com

MEMBER HIGHLIGHT – MEET MATT!

Matt has been a member at CrossFit Slipstream for over a year now!  He’s always smiling and happy.  We love having him as part of our community!  Read what Matt has to say about CrossFit below:

1.Why did you decide to try CrossFit?

I was initially weary about joining a CrossFit gym. What I understood of it was that it involved weights and high intensity. This sounded like a great way to get in shape, but I was concerned it may cause injuries and that it was geared more for people in their 20’s. Interested, I came to a couple guest nights to try it out. The workouts were great. I decided to join to see what it was like. Right away, Jon asked if I had any injuries and mobility issues. He was also very conscious about form and preventing injury. The required onboarding was great because it gave a good flavor of what the workouts would be like and taught proper form to avoid injury. After that, it was a matter of reaching the goals I set for myself.

2. How has having a coach changed your workout or fitness results?

The consults have been useful to help me keep on track in a reasonable and well-rounded, accountable manner. They make for a great opportunity to reflect and ensure I am making good decisions all around in my life.

3. How has CrossFit affected your life/health?

I can certainly tell more balance in my muscles and my joints feel more stable. I do a lot of endurance activities and swam in high school and college. This made a lot of my muscle groups uneven in strength, which can, and was starting to cause some issues. The symptoms are now gone, but I know I need to continue working at it.

4. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?

Bite the bullet and go to a guest day or two. It is really fun and you can get in some really great workouts. Be honest and upfront about any injuries or mobility issues you have. They will make accommodations to ensure you do not hurt yourself.

I heard about CrossFit from a friend.

I tried it because its hard work, not pretend.

Having a CrossFit coach has changed my workouts in a number of ways.

AMRAPS, Metcons, and rounds for time sometimes makes my muscles sore for days.

But don’t you worry one little bit,

Jon is a stickler on form to keep you injury free and fit.

CrossFit has changed my health for the better. This you should trust;

my muscles are more balanced and joints more robust.

If you care about fitness, I suggest you try CrossFit. It’s  like a family. It’s like a team.

You get there faster in the SlipStream!

The Importance of Foundational Strength

Whether you just started CrossFit or you’ve been at it for years, it can be extremely tempting to want to jump into the skills we see elite athletes doing like muscle-ups, handstand walking, and one-legged squats. But behind this “sexy” side of CrossFit lies one common denominator: a high level of fundamental strength.

Related: Continuing Education: Benefits of Learning New Skills

Traditionally, the metcons we do in CrossFit are classified as aerobic endurance training, since nearly all of them last longer than 2 minutes. However, most of these workouts involve some sort of resistance based movement, whether that be a barbell or our bodyweight. Therefore, strength comes into play and confounds the principles of physiology that say you don’t have to be strong to be a high-level endurance athlete. But if we have the goal of increasing the loads we use during a metcon (like striving to complete the Open workouts Rx), we have to be comfortable moving the weights they require for multiple repetitions. For example, a workout involving 30 squat cleans at 135 lbs/61 kg will be much easier for an athlete who’s one rep-max (1RM) is 275 lbs/125 kg vs. one who’s 1RM is 175 lbs/80kg. The stronger athlete will exert less energy per repetition, rest less between reps, and do more in less time.

But the benefits of increasing our baseline levels of strength transfer outside of the gym as well. When our muscles, tendons, and ligaments get stronger and are able to withstand more force, we become less likely to become injured. As we age, many times we lose the strength to do certain tasks like carry grocery bags or stand up out of bed, but by focusing on strength training we can significantly decrease the chances of this happening. So now that we know that increasing our overall strength will help us both in the gym and in life, let’s take a look at how this really happens.

Strength is a general adaptation, which means that when we increase our strength in one movement, that strength tends to transfer to seemingly unrelated movements. This is because strength gains come mainly from improvements in the function of our central nervous system (CNS). When we perform compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and presses, our CNS starts to recruit more muscle fibers at the correct times, and can do this faster than before. As our CNS gets more comfortable under heavier loads in a back squat for example, you don’t just get stronger in the back squat. Many other movements from thrusters to rowing benefit as well. Therefore, strength training ends up helping provide a base that transfers to all other movements in CrossFit, including gymnastics movements where the only load we’re moving is our body.

Related: Zero to Hero: Drills for Your First Pull-Up

The other main reason strength training is extremely beneficial is because it helps develop proper body mechanics. In order to lift as heavy of loads as possible our form has to be spot on, both because proper form is safer and more mechanically efficient. A prime example of this is that when we learn how to do heavy deadlifts, we can use the same form anytime we have to pick up boxes when we’re moving or an infant up off the ground. Within the gym, this focus on correct form will transfer to similar movements that come up in metcons, leaving us less likely to get injured and more efficient during the workout.

Related: Why Motor Control Makes You Stronger

Strength training truly does provide a one-two punch to improving our fitness by providing general neural adaptation and teaching proper body mechanics. Building a strong base by focusing on strength training will help improve nearly every aspect of our fitness, as well as our daily lives from the moment we step out of bed in the morning to the minute we crawl back into it at night. A couple days a week for multiple weeks is all it takes to see dramatic improvement in strength numbers. Our strength program starts up on January 15th, and is the perfect opportunity to see for yourself how improving strength will set up the foundations for you to feel better and move better both in the gym and outside of it.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com

1 2 3 11